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Butterfly Pea Flower Tea: Delicious & Dramatic

Butterfly pea flower tea has been a staple beverage in Southeast Asia for centuries. However, this color-changing drink has only recently gained popularity in Europe and America for its beautiful appearance and its medicinal properties. 

Butterfly pea flower tea is an herbal infusion made from the flowers of the butterfly pea plant. This tea has a distinctive bright blue color that changes when an acid such as lemon juice is added to the mix. This tea is rich in nutrients and associated with mood-enhancing properties. 

If you’ve never had butterfly pea flower tea before, you’ll be amazed at this magical blue drink. Keep reading to learn more about butterfly pea flower tea and the benefits of drinking it. 

What Is Butterfly Pea Flower Tea?

Butterfly pea flower tea is brewed from the dried flowers of the plant Clitoria ternatea, also known as Asian pigeonwings, blue pea, and aprajita. Along with the edible flowers, all other parts of the butterfly pea plant are also consumed as food. 

While butterfly pea flower tea has been ingested and used as a dye in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years, it only recently gained worldwide popularity through exposure in food blogs and cooking shows. Even though it can’t be found in most grocery stores, you can order this tea through online markets and at specialty herb vendors. 

what is butterfly pea flower tea

Where Does Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Come From?

Butterfly pea plants are native across Southeast Asia and are especially popular in Vietnam and Thailand. In Thailand, they’re used to making a local beverage called nam dok anchan, or butterfly pea lemonade. The steeped tea is mixed with a sweetener such as honey and lemon juice, causing it to change colors in response to the shift in pH levels.   

What Does Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Taste Like?

Butterfly pea flower tea tastes similar to green tea with a slightly sweeter, more floral flavor profile. Butterfly pea flower tea also tastes similar to chamomile tea. While butterfly pea flower tea is not bitter enough to need sweeteners, it is often served with honey to smooth its flavor. 

Why Does Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Change Colors?

The most distinctive trait of butterfly pea flower tea is its bright blue color, which sets it apart from any other floral tea commonly ingested. This blue pigment is the result of a chemical compound called anthocyanin

Anthocyanin is also a base indicator, which means that the pigment changes depending on the pH it’s exposed to. When the pigment is brewed in water that is pH neutral, the tea comes out blue. However, adding an acid such as lemon juice to the tea will cause it to take on a bright purple color. 

Health Benefits of Butterfly Pea Flower Tea

Along with creating a beautiful beverage that can be consumed hot or cold, butterfly pea flower tea is also popular because it has positive medicinal properties and health benefits. 

  • Adaptogenic properties: One of the reasons that butterfly pea flower is associated with stress reduction and relaxation is because it is chock full of adaptogenic chemicals. These chemicals help the body react better to stress by regulating stress hormones. Butterfly pea flower tea is great for manifesting grace under pressure!
  • Antioxidants: Like many herbal infusions, butterfly pea flower tea is full of healthy antioxidants that can help prevent degenerative diseases like cancer and cardiovascular problems.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: The phytonutrients that act as antioxidants in butterfly pea flower tea also help to reduce inflammation in the body. This can prevent conditions related to chronic inflammation such as flare-ups of IBS or arthritis.
  • Skin and hair health: Some studies have shown that butterfly pea flower tea can help ensure your hair and skin health. The vitamins in butterfly pea flower tea keep your skin radiant and your hair growing long and thick, while the anthocyanin in the tea increases blood circulation to the scalp.

Butterfly pea flower tea makes a great beverage to pull out for guests because of its delicious taste and dramatic color. However, this drink is also good for bolstering your physical health if you drink it as part of your regular dietary routine. 

butterfly pea flower tea changes color with acid

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How to Make Butterfly Pea Flower Tea

Brewing butterfly pea flower tea isn’t any more complicated than brewing other types of herbal tea. To brew a pot, follow this easy butterfly pea flower tea recipe:

  • Boil water for the tea. It’s a good idea to pour some of the hot water into your tea cup to help warm it so it doesn’t immediately cool the tea off when you pour it. The amount of water you use for brewing will depend on how much butterfly pea flower tea you want to make. Note: A standard cup of tea is about 6 ounces.
  • Add the tea and steep. Add your butterfly pea flower tea. You can use loose tea with an infuser or pre packaged butterfly pea flower tea bags, using one tea bag or two teaspoons of loose tea for every one cup of tea you want to make. Steep the tea in the teapot for five minutes before serving.
  • Remove the tea and serve. Discard the used butterfly pea tea and serve in cups or mugs. Glass tea cups are essential if you want to display the gorgeous blue color to its advantage.  Butterfly pea flower tea should be served with a wedge or slice of lemon if you want to see its color-changing quality in action.
  • Squeeze some lemon or lime. When serving, squeeze some lime or lemon into your tea. The acid will start to change the color of the tea from blue to purple, creating a galaxy effect.
butterfly pea flower tea

If you’d rather not drink butterfly pea flower tea hot, another popular option for this tea is to chill it in the refrigerator after brewing and serving it over ice. This variation makes for a refreshing drink in the summer. 

Even cold, the tea can still be served with lemon so you can show off its changing colors to guests. The temperature of the tea doesn’t change this trait, only the pH. 

Butterfly Pea Flower Tea is Delicious and Dramatic

No matter which way you prefer to make butterfly pea flower tea, this exotic cobalt drink is sure to wow at your next backyard barbeque or get-together for its clean, refreshing flavors and its beautiful color. 

Make sure to serve with wedges of lemon or lime for the color changing excitement.  

The many health benefits associated with this bright blue drink are just an added bonus! 

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butterfly pea flower tea graphic